If this is your first time here, I recommend starting from the first episode and working your way forward. Of course, that's entirely your call.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Season 7, Episode 1: Same Time Next Year

Apologies for skipping last week; I started a new job and am still adjusting to the schedule.

Anyhow, we begin the season with the children all shipping off to their respective schools. Denise has enrolled in an education program, Theo is back at NYU, Vanessa is starting college a year early, and Olivia is going to school for the very first time. Rudy should be headed to class as well, but is too embarrassed to appear in front of her friends because she didn't develop breasts over the summer. Her efforts to speed the process along with questionable pills are of course a failure, and she ends up getting over it because that's how problems work in sitcoms.

She was probably legally prevented from saying "Eat my shorts."

The first image we see, even before the opening credits, is Olivia greeting Cliff in a Bart Simpson mask, referencing the mounting popularity of The Simpsons, which ran in the same time slot as The Cosby Show. Cheeky cheeky, Bill.

She's all, "Rudy, you're basic."

This is Bryce B. Barard as Margie. She shows up only to scare Rudy with her boobs. She's wearing a really minty teal with light denim, which is such a terrible choice. I can kind of support a turtleneck with a denim skirt (kind of), but the turtleneck has to be absolutely any color other than that. The richer teal of her bag, for instance, would have been a better selection. From the little we see of it, I can also tell that I hate her belt. The headband isn't great either. You know what? Go away, Margie.

Dealing pills. Watch for Amy on season 3 of OITNB.

Amy is back. And she knows how to wear an assertive blue. Take that, Margie. She also knows how to wear capri-length casual lederhosen, which I think counts less as a victory.

Give this girl a Z snap.

To say "ready for school" to the world, Olivia puts on her cutest top (look at that elephant and how cute it is!) and her biggest, floweriest pants (which are so big and so flowery that you can't even believe it) and her meanest fact (the shot on the right says it all) and it is on. She's so blazingly confident in herself that I can't do anything but accept this sartorial creation as flawless.


Rudy loves to wear this shirt with overalls or suspenders, as she did most recently in episode #6.22. This time she's gone for a khaki skirted look. I can't tell if her parents are still buying clothes for her to grow into or if this is one of those situations where nothing ever fit right in the late '80s and early '90s. It's conservative overall, but also boring and ill-tailored. Not great.

This looks like something Sondra would wear, doesn't it? From what I can tell, she never wore it on the show, but I get a distinctly Sondra vibe from this getup. The whole Southwestern situation, with the cactus and the thick contrast stitching and the rustic construction of the top, is a step back for Vanessa, which I guess is why I'd rather blame her sister. Though she tries to sleek it up by making the outfit mostly black, it's not something that I think can be salvaged.

Too sad to caption.

Oh man, Theo. You went to Europe and came back looking like this? I had hoped that a summer away would drench you in style. But I'm seeing white sneakers, bunchy athletic socks, cycling shorts peeking out from underneath your cutoff cargo shorts, and a sloppy t-shirt. The fact that there are colors to be seen might be the only saving grace here, and even that is generous. Go back and study, mister. Milan, Paris... hell, you live in New York! How are you still getting this so wrong?

I want to hug her.

Sexy Pinocchio. It goes without saying that I love everything about this. It's odd, it's anachronistic, it's bordering on ugly, but she carries it off. Olivia got her swagger from her stepmom for sure.



I apologize. That was uncalled for. But what are those jeans? And up top she's almost a literal throw pillow. It's appalling. I'm appalled.

Something about pudding.

Usually, when Cliff strays from his favored sweaters, he looks more subdued even when he goes for craziness. Maybe shirts just don't come in the aggressive styles he seeks. This pattern is clearly complicated, but the subtler fluctuations between the hues make it easier to look at without protective headgear of some sort. He, like his wife, is wearing his pants too high and too baggy, but at least they're in this one together. I'm pleased with his palette, but tortured by his tailoring.

And we're off and running! Two seasons left. Who's excited?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Season 7: Opening Credits

OK, kids, here's the situation. The opening credits for this season were pulled almost immediately because, apparently, of a dispute over whether the production had the legal right to display the mural they had used as a backdrop. As a result, the show switched back to its Season 6 intro, which is what the commercially available viewing options like DVDs provide. To get my hands on the intro, I had to go for a grainy YouTube video. Since the quality is low, I'm going to keep my commentary brief. Apologies.

The focus in this segment is bold colors. I'm actually pretty impressed with Cliff's use of purple and coral together, and the brown pant is the right choice to match those shades. I'm going to pretend that's not a black shoe I see there. That's just the poor video quality, right? The tie can't be explained away by compression artifacts, I'm afraid.

I wish I had more information here. Clair's coat might be nice. She might be wearing a green turtleneck, but who knows? Maybe there's a whole pattern under there we're missing! I'm reasonably sure that she's wearing a knee-length gray skirt, black leggings, and boots that reach her mid calf, but really almost all of this is the kind of guesswork that scientists do when they look at fossils. Like, we think we know what a tyrannosaurus looked like, but we weren't there! If only Phylicia Rashad weren't so possessed with the spirit of dance, maybe these shots would have been cleaner.

I must not be interpreting things correctly, because I feel like I might like Sondra's outfit. I mean, it's got obvious ugliness to it, but in a way that makes her look like the lady in a JRPG who joins your party and then turns out to be a sorceress princess in disguise.

Her husband is just wearing an uglier version of her dad's outfit. Also, there appears to be a loafy mullet situation on the back of his head, and that's gonna need to get taken care of.

Denise goes easy on me and reproduces her (still preposterous) episode #6.25 suit.

A turtleneck and black pants from Martin, who continues to live on the edge.

My hopes for Theo's ascent to fashion competency are once again dashed.

Vanessa is all, "What if Jubilee from the X-Men got a job promoting a boxer?"

Yeah, no.

You know what? I'm totes feeling this. Little kids should wear wild colors and make risky fashion choices!

Of course, the one who really got the short end of the stick with the credits change is Cousin Pam. Erika Alexander was added as a regular cast member in the seventh season, but the return to the previous season's intro omitted her charming smile, door knocker earrings, and neon poncho. That's just not right.

And that's that, my darlings! Come back next week, when the quality of the screen grabs will have improved somewhat.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Season 6, Episode 26: The Storyteller

Here it is: the final show of the season. To close us out, the writers have introduced a character known as Gramtee, Cliff's great aunt. She's old, she's feisty, she's pious, and she's full of stories about the family's history. Her main triumph, however, is convincing Olivia to come to church instead of going to the zoo with her friend.

Actual realness.

The preacher is played by Rev. Eugene Callendar. He appears not as an actor, but as an actual minister and civil rights advocate. He passed away in November.


The soloist at the church? Mavis Staples. And over her shoulder? Is that Miss Lillias White? Looks like Olivia made the right choice for her Sunday activity.

Her delivery of "I want my cake" is deserving of a special Emmy.

Minnie Gentry, who was 75 at the time of filming, plays 90-something Gramtee. In addition to age make-up, she's wearing the things you'd associate with an old woman: a long-sleeved, fairly shapeless dress with a matching topcoat, a string of pearls, big glasses, an updo, and an actual shawl. This is pretty much exactly what you'd buy if I sent you to a thrift store with ten minutes to create an old lady Halloween costume. Well, maybe you wouldn't pick such a delicious pattern for your dress, so I guess the costume department here deserves a little credit.

We were promised a tantrum this episode, but none occurred.

Olivia is still playful in this little romper, but her palette is much more muted than usual. I'd expect these colors in the bedspread at my local Marriott, but less so on our nation's favorite sass-mouthed moppet. Was she afraid of inducing a heart attack in her elderly relative with all her excess pizzazz?

I'm getting pretty bored with Rudy. When does she go away to college?

Rudy last wore this outfit in episode #6.19, but pairs it here with her blazer from #5.26. I'm not sure I can support this mash-up; it's a little much. It might just be that I'm not overly fond of that jacket, though.

Nearly there.

I give Vanessa a world of credit, because trying to match something to this dress is sort of a losing battle, and she's doing her damnedest. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where adding a complementary shade just isn't going to cut it. Against all odds, I actually love that dress, but it's got so much going on that it needs to be the only focal point. Everything else should be strictly background. By adding new hues, even ones that accent the main garment, she's making things too chaotic. The look becomes overwhelming. Honestly, this might be a piece best worn on its own. But again: she comes close, and I like this more than one might anticipate I would.

This dude.

Theo's collection of buttoned shirts and mock turtlenecks continues to grow, much to my dismay.

What's with all the green this week?

Oh, Denise, how I adore your goofball aesthetic. This is her #6.11 vest (that's the same vest, right?) set against a lovely lace top, and then dropped atop a pair of pants made for a heavy-set old man. The delicate, dowdy, and dude-y all merge here, along with a blast of modern fun injected via the shimmering chartreuse. She is, as ever, a joy.


Go ahead and get comfy, Clair. The pattern on this top could be used in a formal creation, but this particular piece is such a tent on her that it's hard to interpret it as anything other than sloppy. I get the impression of an artist's drop cloth. And since the pants are similarly loose, she just sort of seems like she's still in her pajamas. I want to love everything she wears, and I'm not saying this is ugly per se, but it feels like a lazy outfit for reading a book by the window rather than something you'd put on to greet a respected elder into your home.

No, really. The green is everywhere.

See? Cliff knows how to style it up for Gramtee. This is a delightful Easter-colored confection of a weekend business-casual presentation. He pushes the boundaries by setting the horizontal stripes of the sweater vest against the more muted vertical stripe on the shirt, but otherwise goes with soft, well-matched tones to create a look that won't blind the poor woman. Well done. (But button that last button, dude.)

Intoxicated with the spirit of the Lord.

Everyone changes for church the next day, but we barely see them; Mavis Staples is (rightly) the focus. Gramtee wears a hat because of course, Clair is ravishing in rose, Vanessa is cravishing in crimson, and Rudy sits in just the right place to make Cliff look like he has a majestic mullet. Sondra and Elvin are vaguely visible in the back there, giving us some more springy greens because I guess this episode didn't have enough of that yet.


That's right, Denise. You are the best. Martin never misses a chance to wear his uniform, and Theo finally wears something I might like but remains hidden in the background. Let's hope season 7 brings his redemption.

And there you have it, my dears. We are officially 3/4 finished with this series. Can you believe it? I kind of can't, honestly. Like, how did this become a think that I do? Since I can no longer put off buying the Season 7 DVDs, I'm including the donation link below as a sort of virtual tip jar. This site began in July of 2009, and it's been a one-man show the whole time, so any and all support is much appreciated. See you next week with the new credits sequence!